Saturday, March 9, 2024



I've been obsessed with this film ever since I first saw it at the theater in 2018. After watching it multiple times, I'm convinced there's something, alive, something almost mystical about it. This isn't a feeling I have about many films, even the ones I love and find fascinating enough to rewatch and study. Whenever I watch THE ENDLESS, I get the disturbing feeling that something has changed, that characters are placed differently, or that locations aren't the same as they were in past viewings. Is it possible that the mysterious entity portrayed in the story has seized control of the actual movie? Or am I just losing my mind?

I'll have to watch it again, maybe ten or twenty times, before I decide.

Co-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead star as brothers Justin and Aaron Smith. The two men were raised in a commune called Camp Arcadia, which is located in a remote wooded area in California. The commune members support themselves by making and selling beer. When Justin was a teenager, he escaped from the commune, taking his younger brother with him. He believed the commune was actually a UFO death cult and told that to the press when he escaped. Aaron, however, remembers the commune as a beautiful place with good, fresh food and people who cared about him. Ten years after leaving the commune, both young men still struggle in trying to live a "normal" life. They have trouble making friends and meeting women. Both of them are in counseling for cult deprogramming. Aaron resents the control his older brother has over his life and wishes they had never left the commune.

A video cassette tape arrives in the mail with a mysterious message. A woman from the commune appears to be saying farewell and that she and the other members are looking forward to their "ascension". Justin believes they're finally going to commit suicide. Aaron tells his brother that he wants to go back for just one night to gain closure. Justin agrees, thinking it might be good for Aaron to see the place for what it really is. Once there, the two men experience strange phenomena as they try to understand the secrets of the commune/cult. For one thing, why do the members look the same age as when the boys left ten years ago? And why are there two moons up in the sky with a third moon slowly appearing? 

To reveal any more details of the story would deprive first time viewers of some incredible surprises. Just forget everything you thought you knew about time, space, eternity, and all of that cool stuff when you sit down to watch THE ENDLESS. For that matter, forget everything you though you knew about how to make a horror film. The directors have created something totally unique: an involving, terrifying film devoid of the violence and bloodletting so common in modern horror movies.

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead

THE ENDLESS premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017 and was released in the United States a year later. There is so much to praise here, from the believable, natural performances, to the atmospheric locations and cinematography. The special effects are brilliant, but do not overwhelm the human story. The film also makes good use of music. The folk song House of the Rising Sun is interspersed throughout. According to the filmmakers, choosing this song was an economic decision, as it's in the public domain. But the song, performed in an eerie, bluesy style by a female singer, whose identity isn't named in the credits, somehow fits perfectly into the weirdness of the film, even though the lyrics seem unconnected to the plot.

An earlier Benson-Moorehead film, RESOLUTION (2013), a brilliant mind-bender all on its own, features two characters who are involved in the mystery of THE ENDLESS. I highly recommend both of these films. In fact, it might be best to watch them as a double feature, although I can't promise you an obsession-free existence after the fact.

Benson wrote the story and Moorehead was the cinematographer. Music was by Jimmy LaValle. Also starring Callie Hernandez, Lew Temple, Tate Ellington and James Jordan. Other Benson-Moorehead feature films: SPRING (2014), SYNCHRONIC (2019) and SOMETHING IN THE DIRT (2022).


  1. Very provocative review, Mike! Sounds intriguing and mysterious, which are things I like in a film when I’m looking for something containing mystery, suspense, and unusual plots. Hope to get a chance to see this film sometime!

  2. Thanks for commenting! I hope you like this film when you get a chance to see it. It's very unique and very well made. Take care, and thank you for visiting my blog!

  3. I found this streaming free on kanopy, Mike. I certainly was reminded of Lovecraft. I have only read a few of his stories but that supernatural, sometimes unseen, horror set in rural settings connected to The Endless. I found the film intriguing and challenging. My possibly faulty reading saw the reason for the endless returns to be linked to suicide, which would have made the group a death cult after all, and somehow the two boys escaped before the third moon. The movie also struck me as connected to The Twilight Zone. Might there have been an episode somewhat similar? Great writeup.

    1. Hi Roger! Great to hear from you! I've only read one Lovecraft story myself, even though I've had a book of stories on the shelf for quite a while. Your idea that the endless returns being connected to actual suicide is one that I didn't consider, although you could be correct. I felt that the ascensions and returns were being controlled by the mysterious "entity", which also had the power to trap people in the endless time loops. No explanation is given for why this happens or why the cult members benefit from it, other than remaining forever young. (I guess that would be enough of a reason for most people.) The scene at the camp after the ascension happened kind of reminded me of what Jonestown looked like, only without the bodies. So, for me, any answer is possible. Also, I'm not sure if the two guys really escape from the entity, or if they're going to be caught in a loop like the others. Even that isn't clear. Maybe another watch will help me find the answer! As you see, I'm caught in a loop of my own! I can't remember an episode of Twilight Zone that reminds me of this film, but you could be right. I'll investigate. Thanks for commenting, Roger, and take care!

  4. Whoa, that opening paragraph of yours gives me goosebumps -- just be sure you don't get trapped in your own 'endless' with regard to that shape-shifting movie! Seriously though, I'm with you Mike, the best horror is the kind that builds an atmosphere of eerie dread without resorting to gore, jump scares and CGI creatures. I've seen the film only once, but its unique, weird bits of business stick with you. I should give it a second viewing, but I'm half afraid I'll get sucked into that world and never get out! 😉

  5. Hi Brian! Thanks for the great comments! I'm afraid it's too late for me to escape from this cosmic time loop. The mysterious Entity has reached out for me through the TV screen and I am now totally within its power, doomed forever to watch The Endless...endlessly. Of course, the entity has been kind enough to give me time off to keep up with Barbara Steele and my continuing B-flick research. So, I'm not complaining. The Entity is now accepting new recruits into his cult universe. All it takes to join is just one more viewing of the movie. That's all. Give it some thought and let me know what you decide. As UFO death cults go, this one isn't so bad.

  6. Your chat about this movie on your YouTube channel and this intriguing review have certainly piqued my interest. Your cautionary statement should give me pause, but this reckless, retro reprobate will have to brave the obsessive doom posed by THE ENDLESS. I have been hopelessly obsessed with hundreds of weird movies for most of my life, so I'm a lost cause anyway. After surviving the seemingly endless tedium of HOOTENANNY A GO-GO (1965), I'm ready for anything!

  7. "Reckless, retro reprobate"! Keep those alliterations coming! I love them!!You are certainly welcome to add to your list of cinematic obsessions by joining the Cult of The Endless. (So far, I'm the only member. I invited Brian Schuck, but he hasn't filled out his application yet.) Glad to hear your Hootenanny A Go-Go experience didn't cause you any lasting trauma. By the way, I finally saw American Movie, the documentary about the making of Coven. It's playing on The Criterion Channel. I thoroughly enjoyed it. That man's unbridled enthusiasm is inspiring. I wish I had that kind of drive to achieve something. His guitar-playing friend almost stole the show!